Conference Paper

Hybrid steel-rubber bearing inter-module connection with replaceable steel fuses

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In the pursuit of a more sustainable construction industry, steel Modular Building Systems (MBS) have been increas-ingly adopted for their demountable and reusable nature, yet this trend has also uncovered the challenges of exist-ing inter-module connection systems regarding demountability and damage control. To mitigate these limita-tions, a new hybrid steel-rubber bearing (SRB) inter-module connection with replaceable steel fuses was devel-oped and its structural behaviour was investigated through nonlinear FEA. Results showed that the integration of SRB and steel fuses at the modules interfaces delivered promising mechanical properties and damage control ca-pabilities under the effect of monotonic and cyclic lateral loads.

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Volumetric prefabricated building construction is growing in most developed countries; for example, in Sweden the market share of prefabricated building systems in the housing industry was more than 80%. However, in Australia only approximately 3-4% of new building constructions are prefabricated buildings in a year. A major hindrance to the growth of prefab construction in Australia is that systems are developed under commercial and confidential conditions. There are limited publicly-available research and case studies for certifiers, regulators, engineers and academia to provide independent information on the performance, advantages and disadvantages of prefabricated building systems. Independent designers and structural engineers are relying on the strength of the structural and non-structural element, as well as the connections of the prefabricated building systems. This strength is estimated from the "commercial-in-confidence" test of individual components by manufactures, and it might result in undesired outcomes in design. This paper provides an overview of available literature on structural performance, benefits, constraints and challenges of prefabricated building systems. This paper also highlights the research needed on the prefabricated building systems such as full-scale tests, numerical modelling, hybrid simulations, case studies and social and economic assessments. Being supported by sound academic research will increase the market demand for prefabricated building systems in Australia as well as in other countries.
Prefabrication technology has been heavily promoted by the Chinese government due to its potential to improve construction quality and productivity. However, there is an urgent need to assess the environmental performance of prefabrication technology to identify whether it is an effective method that is conducive to sustainable development. This study considered two typical residential projects using the two technologies to conduct a fair comparison between prefabrication technology and cast-in-situ technology. Various measuring methods, including content analysis, face-to-face interviews and on-site measurements, were used for data collection. Environmental impact (EI) categories selected for the study included resource depletion, energy consumption and construction waste discharge. Two life cycle assessment (LCA)-based models, the construction environmental performance assessment system (CEPAS) and the building health impact assessment system (BHIAS), were integrated to measure the EI of the two construction technologies based on three damage categories, namely, ecosystem damage, resource depletion and health damage. Finally, social willingness to pay (WTP) was applied to integrate the damage categories for comparisons. The results indicated that the sample prefabricated residential building (PRB) construction was more efficient in energy use, with a 20.49% reduction in total consumption compared to the sample traditional residential building (TRB) construction. The use of prefabrication demonstrated a certain degree of advantages in EI, including a 35.82% reduction in resource depletion, a 6.61% reduction in health damage and a 3.47% reduction in ecosystem damage. Prefabrication technology was more environmentally friendly because of its advantages in reducing damage to the environment compared with traditional cast-in-situ construction technology.
Engineering The Circular Economy: A field manual for re-designing a regenerative economy
  • Emf
EMF. 2013. Engineering The Circular Economy: A field manual for re-designing a regenerative economy, Foundation, E.M., [Exhibition catalogue].